Vaccination against Ebola Virus Disease starts in Yambio, Western Equatoria.
Health organizations have strengthened surveillance and vaccination activities across the country after measles outbreaks were confirmed in three counties.
Inter-communal fighting kills hundreds of civilians and disrupts aid operations across the country.
After several months of intensive access negotiations, humanitarians have increased aid operations in Western Equatoria.
Improving Ebola Virus Disease preparedness
On 28 January, a high-level team from the Ministry for Health and humanitarian organizations visited Yambio to launch the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) vaccination campaign. This follows an allocation of about 2,160 doses of vaccine by GAVI Vaccine Alliance to South Sudan in December 2018.
The campaign aimed to vaccinate targeted healthcare and frontline workers operating in high risk states bordering the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) against EVD, as part of national preparedness efforts. At least 82 healthcare workers and frontline workers were vaccinated at Yambio State hospital during the launch. Similar vaccination campaigns will be launched in other EVD high risk areas including Morobo, Yei and Juba in Central Equatoria and Nimule in Eastern Equatoria.
Meanwhile, the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund allocated US$2 million to support critical EVD preparedness activities in South Sudan. The EVD activities aim to protect an estimated 440,000 people in high-risk areas.
The CERF funds will help with time-critical actions to strengthen surveillance, build case management capabilities, enhance laboratory services and increase infection prevention and control.
The implementation of trhe preparedness plan continues across border areas considered to be at high risk of EVD. These include entry screening of travelers at selected points of entry, health facility and community-based EVD surveillance, and community engagement. Capacity for infection prevention and control, case management, and for safe and dignified burials is also being enhanced. Nineteen screening points are operational across the country. As of 31 January, more than 1,164,000 people entering South Sudan have been screened at the points.
EVD isolation units have been constructed in Yei, Yambio and Nimule. Organizations in Yei have also trained and deployed 40 community-based mobilizers in five communities in Yei County for house to house sensitization.
Construction of a temporary holding unit has been completed in Nimule, Eastern Equatoria. Twenty healthcare workers were trained on infection prevention and control, case management and water, sanitation and hygiene activities in Juba, and another 40 health workers were trained in Maridi. About 56 health facility workers were trained and given cell phones to help with reporting on surveillance.
Despite the preparedness response, consistent access to areas outside Yei County remains a challenge due to insecurity. On 29 January, partners reported that they had failed to secure humanitarian access to Lasu in Otogo County to verify reports of the arrival of over 7,000 returnees from the DRC who would require EVD screening. Efforts to secure access are continuing, to be able to reach areas as needed in February and March to undertake critical preparedness activities.
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs